Wearable technology has been getting a lot of attention across multiple industries, including healthcare, but nowhere has it been more well-received than in fitness. In fact, of all of the fitness trends that have come and gone in the last few years, none continue to be as popular, and transformative, as wearables. What began as a novelty — by some accounts, little more than a fancy pedometer — has now become a multibillion dollar industry that’s showing no signs of slowing down.
As we move into 2017, and the health and fitness resolutions that it’s bound to bring with it, let’s take a look at some of the new developments in wearable fitness technology that we are likely to see in the coming months.
The Top Five Trends in Wearable Fitness
What can we expect from wearable technology in the coming year?
1. Invisible Wearables
Okay, so they might not actually be ‘invisible” per se, but the new fitness wearable devices are likely to get smaller and be less obvious when worn. Everyone knows when you are wearing a FitBit or other device on your wrist, but newer devices are being developed to be used as zipper pulls, keychains, and even jewelry. Given that many people stop using fitness trackers because they are uncomfortable or don’t coordinate with their clothing, making the technology less obvious is a welcome change.
2. Increased Focus on Safety
Safety is a concern for many people, especially those who work out outdoors or alone. New wearables are in development that include safety features such as an alarm or alert button to immediately contact the police when the wearer is in danger. For those with health conditions, these features can help them get medical help when necessary.
3. Wearables in Clothing
Shoes with built-in step counters. Jackets that measure your heart rate. Athletic suits that can tell you which muscles you are using. These are just some of the clothing items that are in development or are already available that contain built-in sensors for measuring your workouts and vital signs. This technology can not only help the average exerciser, but can be put to use in professional sports to give fans a new perspective on their favorite games, and help coaches pay closer attention to how hard athletes are working to help prevent injury.
4. Increased Focus on Additional Readings
While many people use their activity trackers to measure how many steps they take, how many minutes they work out, and in some models, their heart rate, the capabilities of fitness trackers and other gear is expanding to focus more on additional measurements, including sleep (both time and quality), blood pressure, oxygen rates, and perspiration, all with an eye toward maximizing overall health.
5. More Accurate and Advanced Sensors
One of the ways that wearable fitness technology is adding readings is by developing more advanced technology that is more sensitive and more accurate. Engineers are equipping wearables with better technology, including better sensors with an analog to digital converter, microcontrollers and more, along with more powerful software to develop a better overall picture of the user’s health and make better connections between the readings.
Fitness wearables are expected to become more intuitive and able to make recommendations or provide alerts when necessary; for example, one device in development will be able to determine how much sun exposure you’ve had that day and will alert you when it’s time to apply more sunscreen. Another device may be able to measure your hydration levels via how much you’ve perspired, and let you know that it’s time to drink some water. The idea is that rather than a set of discrete measurements that tell you only a small part of the overall story of your health, wearables will soon be able to make more sense of the readings and be more useful for tracking and improving.
These are just a few of the developments that we can expect to see in the coming year when it comes to fitness wearables. With connected devices becoming an integral part of everyday life, we’ll most likely see even more advanced capabilities as the months go by, but for now, don’t be surprised when your old fitness tracker feels hopelessly out-of-date before too long.